Kip's monumental work on British Topography
By KIP, Johannes , 1735

Nouveau Théâtre de la Grande Bretagne: ou description exacte des palais du roy et des maisons les plus considerables des seigneurs & des gentilshommes.

Art & Architecture
  • Author: KIP, Johannes
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Thomas Millard, Jean Brindley, Robert Willcock & Bisphan Dickinson
  • Publication date: 1735.
  • Physical description: Four volumes, folio (540 by 360mm), titles printed in red and black, one additional engraved title (in volume 4), 256 engraved plates (of a possible maximum of 262 - see footnote), comprising 12 folding, 211 double page, and 33 single-page, text and plates mounted throughout on guards, nineteenth-century mottled calf gilt by J. Wright, centrepiece on each cover with initials "M.A.S.", here bound without 5 plate listed in the index for volume 3, but see footnote (Carte d'Angleterre, Jardins [de Wentworth], Argile House, Chateau de Schoon, Chateau de Roy et Gicht), occasional spotting and minor soiling, a few plates creased, and minor repairs to folding St Paul's plate, rebacked retaining original spines.
  • Inventory reference: 11552


A fine copy of this magnificent work. The ‘Nouveau Théâtre’ is justly celebrated for its survey of the country house during the Augustan age, recorded in the series of plates engraved by Kip and including the highly detailed depictions of gardens and parks. Influenced in origin by a series of French publications, this wonderful series of plates, like Buck’s views of towns some years later, is a celebration of a whole range of country houses and English prosperity, and just antedates the great Palladian revival in England.

The contribution by other engravers comprises an outstanding series of plates showing the royal palaces, naval towns (Harwich, Chatham, Rochester, Portsmouth, Plymouth and the Eddystone Lighthouse), cathedrals, the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, and large panoramic views of London, Westminster, Oxford and Cambridge. The Scottish plates, which include a fine panoramic view of Edinburgh, are largely derived from Slezer’s Theatrum scotiae.

The genesis of the work however was in the late seventeenth-century with Kip’s fellow Dutchman Leonard Knyff (1650-1727). It was his initiative to publish a series of engraved views of English country houses when he announced in the Post Man for 10-12th May 1698 that he ”hath undertaken, by way of Subscription, the Drawing and Printing of 100 Noblemen and Gentlemens Seats… A hundred Subscribers shall pay Ten pound each; Six pounds thereof at the time of their Subscriptions, and the remaining Four Pounds when half is finished to carry on the rest, and shall then be delivered, That every Subscriber shall have two Prints of each impression, which make in all 200”. However Knyff encountered financial difficulties so that when the work was finally published the plates, which were engraved by Kip, were owned by David Mortier.

The work was greatly expanded during the 1710s ,1720s, and 1730s with the result that the content of later copies tends to vary, some plates not being included at the behest of the buyer, as was probably the case with the present work. The five plates called for in the index to volume 3 do not appear to have ever been included at the time of binding.

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